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Tom Price
  Meet the Press  MSNBC  March 12, 2017 11:05am-11:15am PDT

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all, we need every republican in congress and we're counting on kentucky. >> yesterday afternoon i spoke with the secretary of health and human services whose job it will be to implement the replacement. i started by asking the republican plan, which leaves much of the obamacare archite architecture in place is annage knockment that the health care system can't be run by the free market alone. >> no, not at all. obviously, this is a transition we're going through, but the important thing is to appreciate that the market as it is right now is failing. obamacare and the aca has failed. you've got premium going up a deductibles where people have an insurance card but no coverage. a third of the counties in this nation who only have one insurer offering coverage. that's not a choice, nor is it responsible to the individuals who are going to be selecting the coverage. so what we need to do is to fix this and move in a direction that puts patients and families and doctors in charge of their health care and not washington, d.c. >> i know there is a lot of talking points that are being
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used that obamacare is failing. but if you have a system where, yes, premiums went up, but also enrollees, enrollment went up, too, that's not the definition of a failing system. >> well, in fact, the number of individuals who actually got coverage through the exchange, who didn't have coverage before or who weren't eligible for medicaid before is relatively small. so it turned things upside down completely for three or four or five million individuals. what's happened is that premiums didn't go down as the previous president promised. they lost the coverage they had. they have lost the ability to see the doctors or the provider that they wanted to see. so we need to move in a direction again that respects the principals of accessibility for all, affordability for all, quality and choices for pare patients. >> let's go to the affordability aspect. first of all, can you say for certain that once this bill is passed, nobody, nobody will be worse off financially when it comes to paying for health care?
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>> well, i'll tell you right now there are a lot of people that are worse off right now wh they're paying for health care d they aren't getting the care they need. again, the premiums are up. deductibles are up. if you are an individual out there making $50,000 and your deductible is $8,000 you may have an insurance card but you don't have coverage. i hear about patients who come into the office and they recommend something for them and they're not able to get it because the deductible is so high. >> i notice you ducked the aspect of whether you can guarantee that nobody will be worse off financially. >> i firmly believe that nobody will be worse off financially in the process we're going through understanding that they will have choices that they can select the kind of coverage that they want for themselves and for their family, not the government forces them to buy. so there is costs that needs to come down and we believe we're going to be able to do that through this system. there is coverage that's going to go up. there are 20 million folks who
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said to the federal government, i'll pay a penalty or i'll take a waiver. i'm not even going to get coverage in the system we currently have. that may be a system that works for government or insurance, but it doesn't work for people. >> you believe your system is going to add an additional 20 million over the 20 million that have had expanded coverage? you really believe that? >> we believe -- i believe and the president believes firmly that if you create a system that's accessible for everybody and you provide the financial feasibility for everybody to get coverage, that we have a great opportunity to increase coverage over where we are right now, as p e oezed to where the line is going right now. >> let me go to this financial feasibility issue here. because in west virginia, kiezer family foundation estimates the following, that the $4,000 tax credit that a 60 year old making 30 thousand dollar a year will get under the american health care act is almost $8,000 less than they would get under
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obamacare. this is a county that voted overwhelmingly for president trump. the point is this. you say it is going to make it more affordable and access to coverage. under this plan in this county in this state, less money and more expensive for these folks. >> that's looking at it in a silo. if you look at it in the way that the market will allow, then, for individuali ins to ha choices, who knows what that 60-year-old wants. i know that he or she knows what he or she wants and the way you provide a decrease in cost and choices for folks, you make it so the system can be responsive to that individual. that's the way you drive down costs. >> why not means test the tax credits? why do it by age where you may essentially have it where you're incent vising folks not to buy health insurance until they need it? >> i've been working on this so long i've gone through the phase
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where i had it completely related to income and became convinced by the folks who do this on a day in and day out basis that the most predictive element of an individual's life in terms of what health coverage may cost is not income, it's age. as your age increase, your health care costs increase and the cost of the coverage increases. so they have pegged it to age. there is an opportunity to put some means testing in there, but that's not the most -- that's not the correlation factor to what it actually costs. age is the thing that correlates best. >> but age is also -- i mean, this is also -- and this is a part of obamacare that didn't work, which is to try to get as many young people on the system. they needed 40% of folks under 35 in the system to keep premiums down. how do you do it? how does it do it here? because this system seems to say to say to folks under 35, don't worry about it. if you want to get health care,
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we won't make you do it. and that only increases premiums for older folks, does it not? >> we say to that 30, 35-year-old individual, you know that you need health coverage. what we're going to do is provide you a system that allows you an array of choices that you can choice the coverage plan that works best for you and your family, not be dictated to by the federal government and have to purchase something that you most likely do not need. >> we have two pieces of information we do not have yet and there is vong already going on in congress. how many people will be covered and the second is what's the hit to the deficit. on the coverage issue, we don't know financial issue. on the coverage issue a couple estimates out there. one as high as 15 million fewer people covered. that's what they believe the congressional budget office is going to end up showing when they finally are able to come out with an estimate. 15 million. is that an acceptable number to you? if that's what it really is, do you go back and say, we've got
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to tweak this? >> i'll tell you the plan we have layed out here will not leave that number of individuals uncovered. i think we'll have folks evaluating this and modeling this come out and say, yes, indeed, this plan will in fact cover more individuals than are currently covered remembering right now the trend line is down on the number of individualing being covered. it is not increasing and the cbo estimate five, six, seven years ago when this started, they estimated that over 20 million people would have coverage at the end of the ten-year window. it is about half of that right now. so cbo has been very adept at not providing appropriate coverage statistics. >> this plan has some medicaid expansion in it to reform, although you cap it in some respects. this plan has tax credits, another name for a sub citi. it has made some on the right say this is obamacare-lite.
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u are accepts the architecture but trying to remodel the building. what say you? >> no, absolutely not. in fact, this is a little puzzling because independents and conservatives for decades have said shouldn't we equalize the tax treatment of the purchase of health coverage for folks who get it through their employers and folks who aren't able to get it through their employer. that's exactly what the tax credits do. what we do is say here is an opportunity for you to use a tax benefit that every -- the 175 million individuals that are getting their coverage from their employer, those folks have a tax benefit. it is the moms and the pops out there. it is the corner grocery. >> should those folks have a tax benefit or should people like you and me have to pay taxes on those benefits? >> if part of our society has a tax benefit for the purchase of a health coverage, then it needs to be fair for everybody, and
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that's the kind of thing we're looking for. >> you don't want to raise taxes -- that's why you want a tax credit, but you're not going to get that revenue from upper income folks who get generous health care insurance from their company? >> that's another system that's been in place, as i say 175 million folks are getting their coverage through their employer right now. that's a debate we ought to have. the fact of the matter is the vast majority of the american people support making it equal for individuals who are getting it from their employer and not getting it from their employer. they're out there in the individual and small group market, which is really destroyed by the aca. that's what we're reconstitute. it will drive down cos. >> you accept this bill? you own this bill? president trump accepts this bill? he owns this bill, fair? >> we strongly support the plan, which is this bill, the regulatory opportunity to mod